Mental Radio, by Upton Sinclair, , at sacred-texts.com
A new method of experiment invented itself by accident; and makes perhaps the strangest story yet. There came a letter from a clergyman in South Africa, saying that he was sending me a copy of his wife's novel dealing with South African life. I get many letters from strangers, and answer politely, and as a rule forget them quickly. Some time afterwards came two volumes, entitled, "Patricia, by Marcus Romondt," and I did not associate them with the clergyman's letter. I glanced at the preface, and saw that the work had something to do with the religious cults of the South African natives. I didn't read more than twenty linesjust enough to classify the book as belonging in Craig's department. Everything having to do with philosophy, psychology, religion and medicine is first read by her, and then fed back to me in her eager discourses. I took the volumes home and laid them on her table, saying, "This may interest you." The remark attracted no special attention, for the reason that I bring her a book, or a
magazine, or some clippings at least once a day. She did not touch these volumes, nor even glance at the title while I was in the room.
I went into the kitchen to get some lunch, and when it was ready I called, "Are you going to eat?" "Let me alone," she said, "I am writing a story." That also is a common experience. I ate my lunch in silence, and then came into the living room again, and there was Craig, absorbed in writing. Some time later she came to me, exclaiming, "Oh, I have had the most marvelous idea for a story! Something just flashed over me, something absolutely novelI never heard anything like it. I have a whole synopsis. Do you want to hear it?" "No," I said, "you had better go and eat"for it is my job to try to keep her body on earth. "I can't eat now," she said, "I am too excited. I'll read a while and get quiet." So she went to her couch, and there was a minute or two of silence, and then an exclamation: "Come here!"
Craig had picked up one of the two volumes from South Africa, and was staring at it. "Look at this! " she said. "Look what I opened to!" I looked at a page in the middle of the bookshe has the devilish habit of reading a book that wayand in the center of the page, in capital
letters, I read the words: "THE BLACK MAGICIAN." "What about it?" I said. "Did you ever hear of that idea?" asked Craig. I answered that I had, and she said, "Well, I never did. I thought it was my own. It is the theme of the 'story' I have just been writing. I have made a synopsis of a whole chapter in this book, and without ever having touched it!"
So Craig had a new set of experiments to try all by herself, without bothering her busy husband. She would go to one of my bookcases, with which she had hitherto had nothing to do, since her own books are kept in her own place. With her back to the bookcase, she would draw a book, and take it to her couch and lie down, placing the book upon her solar plexus, and taking every precaution to make sure that it never came into her line of vision. Most of the books, being new, were in their paper jackets, so there was no lettering that could be felt with her fingers. This, you note, is not a test of telepathy, for no human mind knew what particular book Craig's hand had fallen upon. If she could tell anything about the contents of that book, it would appear to be clairvoyance, or what is known as "psychometry."
My books are oddly varied in character. There
are new novels, and works of history, biography, travel and economics. In addition, there are what I call "crank books"; the queerly assorted volumes which are destined by donors all over the world to convert me to vegetarianism, antivivisection, anarchism, Mormonism, Mohammedanism, infanticide, the abolition of money, or the doctrine that alopecia is caused by onanism. Believe me, the person who sets out to guess the contents of the books that come to me in the course of a month has his or her hands full!
But Craig was able to do it. She did it on so many occasions that she would sit and stare at me and exclaim, "Now what do you make of that?" She would insist that I sit and watch the process, so as to be able to state that she never had the book in her line of vision. In my presence she picked out a volume, and, keeping it hidden from both of us, she said, "I see a blue cover, with a rising sun and a bare landscape." It happened to be a volume circulated by the followers of "Pastor Russell," and as the preface tells me that 1,405,000 have been sold, it may be that you too have it in your library. The title is "Deliverance," by J. F. Rutherford, and it has a blue cloth cover, with a gold design of a
sun rising behind a mass of clouds and a globe.
On another occasion Craig wrote: "One big eye, with nothing else distinctthen lines or spikes came around it, or maybe these project from the head like stiff long hairs, or eye-lashes. Can't tell what kind of headbut feel it must be a tropical something, tho the eye looks human," etc. The book was "Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island," by H. G. Wells, and in this book is a chapter headed, "The Friendly Eye," with the following sentences: "I became aware that an Eye observed me continually. . . . It was a reddish brown eye. It looked out from a system of bandages that also projected a huge shock of brown hair upward and a great chestnut beard . . . the eye watched me with the illuminating but expressionless detachment of a head-lamp. . . . Polyphemus, for that was my private name for the man."
A long string of such surprises! Craig picked up a book and wrote: "Black wingsa vampire flying by night." The title of the book was "The Devil's Jest." She picked up one and wrote: "A Negro's head with a light around it." It is a German volume, called "Africa Singt," and has a big startling design exactly as described. She picked up a book by Leon Trotsky, and wrote
the word "Checkro"which may not sound like Russian to Trotsky, but does to Craig! And a book with Mussolini on the cover, wearing a black coat and feeding a lion; she got the shape of the Duce's figure, only she labeled him "Black Bird." And here is a part of the jacket design of "wings" on the "Literary Guild" booksand below is what Craig made of it. She added the comment: "Motionthe thing is traveling, point first" (fig. 22, 22a):
Another volume was described as follows: "A pale blue book. Lonely prairie country, stretch
of flat land against sky, and outlined against it a procession of people. Had feeling of movingwheeled vehicle which seemed to be baby-carriage. This was strange, because country was covered with snow." Upon examination, the book proved to be bound in mottled pale blue boards, title, "I'm Scairt," with subtitle, "Childhood Days on the Prairies." On the first page of the preface occurs the following: "It was in those days that a company of Swedes left their beloved homeland in the far North and came to make a home for themselves and their children on the Kansas prairie."
Finally, I have obtained the publisher's consent to reproduce the jacket design of a recent book, so that I may put Craig's telepathy alongside it, and give you a laugh or two. Observe the jolly little tourists, and what they have turned into! And then the efforts of Craig's subconscious mind at French. They taught it to her in a "finishing school" on Fifth Avenue, and you can see that it was finished before it began (fig. 23, 23a):
Yet another form of experiment invented itself under the pressure of necessity. Impossible to have such a witch-wife without trying to put her to use!
I have the habit of working out a chapter of a new book in my head, and writing down a few notes on a scrap of paper, and sticking it away in any place that is handy; then, next day, or whenever I am ready for work, it is gone, and there is the devil to pay. I wander about the house for an hour or two, trying to imagine where I can have put that scrap of paper, and reluctant to do the work all over again. On one occasion I searched every pocket, my desk, the trash-baskets, and then, deciding that I had dropped it outdoors, where I work with my typewriter, I figured the direction of the wind, and picked up all the scraps of paper I saw decorating the landscape of our beach home. Then I decided it must be in a manuscript which I had given to a friend in Los Angeles, and I was about to phone to that friend, when Craig asked what the trouble was, and said, "Come, let's make an experiment. Lie down here, and describe the paper to me."
I told her, a sheet off a little pad, written on both sides, and folded once. She took my hand,
and went into her state of concentration, and said, "It is in the pocket of a gray coat." I answered, "Impossible; I have searched every coat in the house half a dozen times." She said, "It is in a pocket, and I will get it." She got up off the couch, and went to a gray coat of mine, and in a pocket I had somehow overlooked, there was the paper! Let me add that Craig had had nothing to do with my clothing in the interim, and had never seen the paper, nor heard of it until I began roaming about the house, grumbling and fussing. Neither of us know of any "normal" way by which her subconscious mind could have got this information.
My secretary lost two screw-caps of the office typewriter, and I said to my wife, "I will bring him over, and you see if you can tell him where to look." But my wife was ill, and did not want to meet any one, so she said, "I will see if I can get it through you." Be it understood, Craig has not been to the office in a year, and has met my secretary only casually. She said, "I see him standing up at his typewriting." That is an unusual thing for a typist to do, but it happened to be true. Said Craig: "He has put the screw-caps on something high. They are in the south room, above the level of any table or desk." I
went to the phone to ask my secretary, and learned that he had just found the screws, which he had put on top of a window-sash in the south room.
The third incident requires the statement that, a few months back, while my wife was away, our home had been loaned to friends, and I had camped at the little house which I was using as an office. Some medical apparatus had been left there; at least I had a vague impression that I had had it there, and I said, "I'll go and look." Said Craig: "Let's try an experiment." She took my hand, and told me to make my mind a blank, and presently she said, "I see it under the kitchen sink." I went over to the office, and found the object, not under the sink, but under the north end of the bathtub. I took it back to the house, and before I spoke a word, my wife said: "I tried to get you on the phone. I concentrated again, and saw the thing and wrote it out." She gave me a slip of paper, from which I copy: "Down under something, wrapped in. paperon N. side of roomunder laundry tub on floor or under bath tub on floor in N. corner."
You may say, of course, if you are an incurable skeptic: "The man's wife had been over to the office and seen the object; she had been searching
his pockets, and had seen the paper." Craig is positive that she did nothing of the sort; but of course it is conceivable that she may have done it and then forgotten it. Therefore, I pass on to a different and more acceptable kind of evidencea set of drawing tests, in which I watched and checked every step of the proceedings at my wife's insistence. Here again I am a co-equal witness with her, and the skeptic has no alternative but to say that the two of us have contrived this elaborate hoax, making nearly three hundred drawings with fake reproductions, in order to get notoriety, or to sell a few books. I really hope nobody will say that is possible. Very certainly I could sell more books with less trouble by writing what the public wants; and if I were a dishonest man, I should not have waited until the age of fifty-one to begin such a career.